We recently returned from a short mini-vacation with our friends John and Joanne to the adjacent cities of Sault St. Marie Michigan and Ontario. There we took in the famous Sault locks and a day long train ride north into the Canadian wilderness. Hop aboard the train with us.....
Unfortunately, midway on the trip, a medical emergency took place and it was several hours before an ambulance could arrive on one of the few roads that crossed the tracks.
We made a several hour stop to see the falls in the beautiful Agawa Canyon. A late summer drought had turned it into a trickle. It had been many years since I'd taken a train ride. All in all it was a lot of fun....
Earlier this spring I noted a new small bird checking our front porch out. Looking for a nesting spot actually. A couple of days later nest construction was well underway. Having had some previous experience with messy barn swallows in the past, I was quick to inform Mrs. Spic and Span. She wasn't happy with the news. The new arrival was actually one of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe. I hinted rather broadly that the bird was likely an "endangered species", which it surely was from Mrs. T's use of the garden hose removal method. A few weeks later I checked the nest. here were five tiny eggs smaller than a dime. Then one evening I heard some eeping and watched the parents hurrying back and forth bringing supper. I ouldn't believe how crowded the nest had become. Those five little birds were iterally piled on top of each other. Then one day they were all gone. Bon voyage little Phoebes. In the interest of good home front cleanliness and spousal relations I then removed the nest. Imagine my amazement when several weeks later I found the nest rebuilt. With the same result. Two broods successfully raised then……. Two barn swallows were noted zooming around their perch on the power lines in front of our house. The rest is history.
They were barn swallows. And they moved right into the phoebe nest.
I thought immediately that it was too late in the summer. They'll never make it in time. Wrong!
Meet the barn swallow twins. After hopping around on my porch planter and railing for a few days they flew off to join their parents and hopefully live happily ever after.... :)
The Baron and I were driving along a track on our way to one of my favorite hiking/birding trails. To the right was a prairie, to the left a long line of shrubs and scrub trees. The flutter of monarch butterflies coming off the shrubs quickly became evident. The flutter soon began to look like a blizzard of orange & black for the next quarter of a mile.
I fumbled to get my little cheapo camera out of my pocket. I like the camera because it does fit in my pocket, while the binocs dangle from my neck. The following pics thru the windshield doesn't come close to doing justice to what I actually saw....but you get the idea. Like many of our migrating birds, the monarchs gather in the fall for an epic journey south. My friend, Mr Science (Gary) gives the following succinct explantion.
"MONARCHS PRODUCE FOUR GENERATIONS EACH YEAR. THREE OF THESE GENERATIONS ONLY LIVE ABOUT ONE MONTH EACH, BUT ONE GENERATION(THE 4TH GENERATION) LIVES FOR ABOUT 8 MONTHS AND THAT IS THE GENERATION THAT EACH FALL MAKES A 1400+ MILE MIGRATION TO MEXICO." His notebook "Nature Notes" on the flora and fauna of Fillmore County, Minnesota can be found at http://fillmorenature.blogspot.com/
I was, perhaps, a little early this year in checking some favorite monarch roosts but the sad fact is their numbers are way down over the long term average. This years drought, especially in the Upper Midwest has had a bad effect. These beautiful creatures depend on milkweed. The long term prospects are even bleaker. Loss of habitat is hurting butterflies in the same way as it has our songbirds. Development and agricultural monoculture are very detrimental….
This small stream in southwestern Montana is the West Fork of the Madison River. The Madison ( a blue ribbon trout stream) is one of the triad of rivers which form the Missouri at the famous junction in Three Forks, Montana. Some decades ago I got an invitation to join my white tail deerbow hunting brother as he went on a scouting expedition for elk in Montana’s Gravely Range. Being employed as a teacher, fall elk hunting was not an option but a July trip offered me the opportunity to try some flyfishing in Big Sky Country. I've had some success over the years fishing the Gallatan, Madison, Missouri, Big Hole, Jefferson, Rock Creek, Lamar, Bitterroot and Boulder Rivers. They were all large or medium sized waters but by my small spring creek limestone southeast Minnesota standards they were too big to ever feel totally comfortable. It was the smaller headwaters and tributary streams that I liked best. And the West Fork of the Madison was the first…. It was in this very spot with our tent pitched along side the tree behind me that I fished in Montana for the first time. My brother and I caught rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout. They were hooked and so was I. It was in the late 70s and for the next 20 some years (later with my sons) that traveling to Montana was an annual summer rite. I suspect the fishing isn't quite as good as it was in those day. Much of thst is due to the depredation of the deadly "whirling desease" that infected these water. The brown trout were less impacted that the rainbows and cuts. Still the browns grow big and fat and the rainbows are slowly rebouding... Here our friends Gary and Rosie appear to be checking out a bend where I had regalled them with stories of giant rainbows leaping out of the water on the end of my line. Those were the days my friends...